A subject group and a commercial publisher are set to reverse the trend of recent academic publishing by starting a new monograph series, writes Huw Richards.
The deal has still to be sealed formally, but with the Political Studies Association and Routledge committed to the project, it is likely to go ahead.
It is hoped that the new series, which will be edited by Mick Moran, professor of politics at Manchester University, will be under way within the next year. Professor Moran will soon hand over the editorship of the PSA journal Political Studies after four and a half years.
The possibility of the new series was raised during discussions between the PSA and Routledge over a new series of advanced teaching texts. This is ironic, because both parties believe the monograph's decline is due in large part to increasing concentration on teaching texts as librarians respond to falling academic library budgets by cutting items that might be regarded as specialist to ensure that they can still buy mainstream texts.
Professor Moran, who sits on a committee at Manchester University Press, one of the largest British university presses, said: "My impression is that over the past ten years there has been a shift towards more course-based texts. In the past it was generally possible to publish a PhD thesis, now it is an extremely tricky matter that makes life difficult for young academics."
Patrick Proctor, Routledge commissioning editor for politics, said there was a similar trend among university presses in the United States. Routledge does not expect to make much money from the series, but, Mr Proctor, said it will not be a loss-leader. "We see this as part of the all-round service a quality publisher should give the academic world." He said it will also give them a chance to build a relationship with future academic stars.
Individual circumstances will determine print runs and prices, but Mr Proctor said he would not be surprised to see editions of about 500 at first printing selling for Pounds 40-Pounds 55.
Professor Moran expects the series to start modestly. "It depends on how many works are in the pipeline and on how many I can handle. In the first year this might mean only four or five books."